Shepparton family preserves fruit at its best

By Alana Christensen

A Shepparton family’s business is set to slash water use in its apple and pear storage facility by up to 80 per cent and stop two tonnes of plastic going to landfill each year as a result of ground-breaking technology.

The Damianopoulos family, which has orchards across the region, and a coolstore in Grahamvale, said technology would help to regulate the humidity of fruit, promoting better quality and reducing food wastage.

With the help of a $400000 Coles Nurture Fund grant, the dynamic controlled atmosphere cool room technology is set to be in place by next year.

After extensive research in Italy, brothers Con and Philip Damianopoulos identified the technology as the most effective way to preserve apples and pears at the highest quality, while also removing the need for high volume of plastic and water usage during the storing process.

The business, Masalki, relies on manually controlling the humidity in cold store rooms by covering crates with plastic lids and flooding the floor with water.

‘‘Consumers now expect the quality of their fruit to be 100 per cent perfect, 100 per cent of the time,’’ Philip said.

‘‘They expect it to taste amazing and look good and they want this all year-round.

‘‘This new technology will remove the impact of dehydration and ensure that the fruit comes out just as nice as the day we picked it,’’ he said.

Coles chief operating officer Greg Davis said the $5million commitment for drought-related projects brought the total provided by the fund to almost $20million since April, 2015.

‘‘We know the drought has been devastating for so many farmers across Australia and we’ve tried to help where we can with short-term relief,’’ he said.

‘‘With support from the Coles Nurture Fund, we want to enable farmers to embark on projects which will help them in the long-term so they can drought-proof their businesses for the future.’’